Books read in February

Some very good nonfiction this month that will probably appear on the end of year wrap up. Some okay fiction.

Courageous Conversations about Race
Glenn E. Singleton.
Curtis Linton
Explains how to have conversations about race in a constructive and courageous way. I liked that the authors were very clear that conversations about race would be uncomfortable. They also discussed many of the ways people use to avoid talking about race. I entered this book a skeptic, but came out a convert.

Food Rules
Michael Pollen
A tiny book—I read it in the span of the bus ride beginning downtown and ending at my mother’s house 35 minutes later. I wouldn’t pay the $11.00 price for this book, but it was fun to get from the library and read.

Some of my favorite rules:

  • Avoid foods you see advertised on television
  • Eat only foods that have been cooked by humans
  • It’s not food if it arrived through the window of your car
  • It’s not food if it’s called the same thing in every language. (Think Big Mac, Cheetos or Pringles.)
  • Eat animals that have themselves eaten well.
  • The whiter the bread, the sooner you will be dead.
  • Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.
  • Be the kind of person who takes supplements—then skip the supplements.
  • Eat more like the French. Or the Japanese. Or the Italians. Or the Greeks.
  • Regard nontraditional foods with skepticism.
  • Have a glass of wine with dinner
  • Pay more, eat less.
  • …Eat less
  • Stop eating before you are full.
  • Eat when you are hungry, not when you are board.
  • If you are not hungry enough to eat an apple, you are not hungry.
  • Eat slowly
  • Drink your food and chew your drink.
  • Spend as much time enjoying the meal as it took to prepare it.
  • Serve a proper portion and don’t go back for seconds.
  • Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper
  • After lunch, sleep awhile, after dinner, walk a mile.
  • Eat meals
  • Limit your snacks to unprocessed snack food.
  • Do all your eating at a table.
  • Try not to eat alone
  • Treat treats as treats.
  • No snacks, no seconds, no sweets, except on days that begin with S.
  • Leave something on your plate
  • Cook.

Julius Caesar
Wm. Shakespeare
Much like Henry the IV parts I & II are not really about Henry IV, so Julius Caesar is not really about Julius Caesar.
Can we talk about race?
Beverly Daniel Tatum, Ph. D.
A short book, based on a series of lectures, Tatum discusses her experience as an “integration baby” and the re-segregation of schools today. Many good tidbits in this book such as:
The ABC approach to creating affirming classrooms: Affirm identity, building community and cultivating leadership. Verna Ford’s mantra: “Think you can—work hard—get smart.” I’m looking forward to reading the author’s other book, “Why are all the black kids sitting together in the cafeteria?”, but it is currently on hold at the library.

A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints
Dito Montel
This didn’t have the most coherent narrative, but I kept reading for the sheer joy of the voice. Dito Montel’s misadventures in the 90s make for some engaging reading. It also includes pictures, and Dito isn’t too hard on the eyes. Note that the movie and the book have absolutely nothing in common.

The Time Machine: Secret of the Knights.
I read this because Matt brought it home from the library. We both read these Choose Your Own Adventure stories as children. Like many things, it was much easier this time to make the correct jumps in time to solve the puzzle, but I still had to look at the hints.

My Sister’s Keeper
Jodi Picoult
Alert! For those of you who saw the movie first a warning that the book does not have the same ending! It seems as though it will, because the movie story follows the book story so closely, but it does not! Do not get caught like I did.

Overall, an engaging story, but one where my eye skipped over, I would guess, 10% of the words, those words having something to do with medical procedures. Medical procedures make me queasy.

The Teaching Gap: best ideas from the world’s teachers for improving education in the classroom
James W. Stigler & James Hiebert
A book that provided a lot of food for thought. It discusses the results of a world-wide study of eighth grade math teachers and the methods they use to educate their students. It shed light on the strange gap in education in the United States: the “professional” educators are not the people in the classrooms. “Researchers” supposedly know more about teaching than the people who teach every day. I’ve always been confused by this mindset and this book suggests a way that teachers could not only incrementally improve their teaching, but also be seen as the professionals they are.

Started but did not finish
Doing Simple Math in Your Head
W. J. Howard
I didn’t finish reading this book, but I purchased it. It shows simple ways of accomplishing addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Ways that were obvious once I read about them, but which never occurred to me in the past. I used some of the tricks to develop a math program to “catch up” my future math students. Great book.

Don Berry
I was surprised at how much the narrative drew me in. Trask, the first book in the trilogy is on Oregon’s list of 150 books for Oregon’s Sesquicentennial. At the time of reading the library didn’t have a lending copy of book one. So I kept getting distracted by the fact that I hadn’t read the first book. But Berry’s writing style is incredibly modern. I kept flipping to the front of the book to see when the book was published. 1962? Really? After I read Trask, I will return to this book.

One thought on “Books read in February”

  1. Another month of good reading. I just discovered the stats page on goodreads. How cool! I love seeing how many pages I read in a year. Some years have been better than others. You are always such a good reader.

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